Visit http://coronavirus.dc.gov/ for the latest news and information on the Coronavirus in DC.
March 9, 2020
The Mayor’s Office of Religious Affairs held a 40-minute information and questions and answer conference call to update ANC Commissioners, community and religions leaders on how the District is handling the Coronavirus outbreak. The meeting was lead by a number of leading officials including, Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Director of the District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH), Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee, Chancellor of DC Public Schools (DCPS), and Kevin Donahue, Deputy City Administrator and the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice. The conference calls are designed to provide first-hand information to these leaders to share with constituents regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Dr. Nesbitt noted that the District is following the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) lead on how to respond to Coronavirus. She stressed several times that the city is not experiencing community spread like other areas where the virus has been reported. Community spread refers to the spread of the virus where the source of infection is unknown. However, there were two presumptive positive cases reported in the meeting. One of those presumptive positive tests is a DC resident and the other is a visiting foreign national. An intense contact investigation is underway to determine who these individuals have come in contact with. Nesbitt continued to stress that in absence of evidence of community spread residents should observe prudent virus containment guidelines such as frequent hand washing, covering mouth when coughing, cleaning common surfaces and other typical safeguards.
Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee talked about several school closures involving Schools Without Walls, The District of Columbia International School, and Mundo Verde. Ferebee announced that each school was closed for a day to perform deep cleaning and reopened. He went on to reassure the callers that DCPS was undertaking a number of deep cleaning activities and all school were well stocked with hand sanitizers, soap, and disinfectant. DCPS has also planned for alternate learning environments if needed as well as standing up a website for distant learning. He went on to report that international travel had been canceled through May 1st. He was later challenged on his assertion that all the schools had been well-stocked with supplies. One caller stated that the teachers and faculty in her school hadn’t seen these supplies and had to furnish their own. The Chancellor took the caller’s information and vowed to look into it and correct the situation.
Callers asked a variety of questions such as:
- How a state of emergency is declared – the Mayor can declare a state of emergency only in a situation where there is no other course of action is available to ensure public safety
- What is Metro doing to ensure passenger safety – Metro is performing Stage 1 (deep cleaning protocols) on trains and buses on a nightly basis
- How are we protecting our seniors – Laura Newland the Director of the Department of Aging and Community Living is taking preventive measure through the Senior Wellness facilities
- How does Christ Church move forward from its confirmed case of Covid-19 – Anyone attending Christ Church on February 24th or February 28th – March 3rd should contact the Department of health at 844-493-2652. This lead to a brief statement from Dr. Nesbitt that DOH is reaching out to churches to provide to consider how to handle such religious practices as communion, greeting of guests and other related worship rituals
These were just some of the questions and concerns raised in this brief, but informative call. The Mayor’s office vowed to hold as many community calls as needed as this rapidly changing situation unfolds. Community leaders were encouraged to point their constituents to http://coronavirus.dc.gov/ for the latest news and information on the Coronavirus in DC.